Between his high-octane debut, Bad Boys
, and 1998's wannabe blockbuster Armageddon
, hotshot director Michael Bay forged his dubious reputation with this crowd-pleasing action extravaganza. In Rock
, a psychotically disgruntled war hero (Ed Harris) seizes the island prison of Alcatraz and threatens to wage chemical warfare against nearby San Francisco unless the government publicly recognises the men who were killed under Harris's top-secret command. Nicolas Cage plays the biochemist who teams up with the only man ever to have escaped from Alcatraz (Sean Connery) in an attempt to foil Harris's terrorist scheme. As one might expect, what follows is an action-packed barrage of bullets, bodies, and climactic confrontations, replete with enough plot contrivances to give even the most jaded action fan cause for alarm. It's a load of hooey, but the cast is obviously having a grand old time, and there's enough wit to make the recycled action sequences tolerable. --Jeff Shannon
In Michael Bay's The Rock
, gung-ho general Francis Hummel (Ed Harris), armed with deadly chemical rockets and aided by violent cohorts, takes over the island of Alcatraz, holding 81 tourists hostage. Hummel promises to deploy the missiles over San Francisco if Washington doesn't make amends to ignored combat victims to the tune of $100 million. A cadre of Navy SEALs are dispatched to quell the situation, assisted by the mysterious, macho John Mason (Sean Connery), the only man to ever escape from Alcatraz, who must now help the SEALs break back in. Joining them is mild-mannered chemical weapons expert Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), who is unaccustomed to such things as guns and military maneuvers. Their high-octane mission is filled with surprises, particularly after Hummel and company quickly annihilate the SEALs--leaving Mason and Goodspeed to save the day all by themselves.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson (Top Gun, Crimson Tide)—-Simpson actually died just prior to the film's release-—reunited with director Bay, who had collaborated with the pair on Bad Boys the previous year, The Rock benefits from a trio of likeable leads in Connery, Cage and Harris (yes, even the villain of the piece is somewhat endearing), a thundering music score and a bevy of explosive set-pieces that combine to create an action-packed thrill ride of a movie.